As you know by now, the Missouri Tigers played their first-ever SEC football game last Saturday, losing at Faurot Field to Georgia, 41-20.
After a late Friday night of high school football, I made the trip to Columbia Saturday to experience some of the pregame festivities and to take in my first SEC football contest.
There’s a lot to talk about, both on and off the field.
Coming into the game, my two biggest concerns for the Tigers were their running game on offense and just their overall defense and how they would stop Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who is arguably the best signal-caller in the SEC.
Missouri’s defense surprised me with how well it played, especially in the first half.
The Tigers put pressure on Murray, stopped the run and forced a turnover or two.
Mizzou held a 10-9 lead at halftime.
Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who referred to Georgia’s game as “old man football,” actually backed up his words and played well.
By the way, Richardson apologized to Georgia Coach Mark Richt after the game about his remarks.
Things changed for the MU defense in the second half.
I believe the MU defense just ran out of gas from the emotional start and all the success in the first half.
While linebacker Zaviar Gooden’s injury is a concern, I am encouraged by the defense for the remainder of the season.
My concern for Mizzou’s rushing game turned out to be on the money.
There was no running game to speak of. MU rushed for 102 yards on 39 attempts for a 2.6 average.
That’s not going to get it done.
Yes, the offensive line is beat up, but either you have to really work hard on getting guys like Kendial Lawrence and Marcus Murphy going, or just throw the darn running game out the window and let quarterback James Franklin either throw or run every time.
Speaking of Franklin, he didn’t have the greatest night. He missed some open receivers. He’ll get better.
I don’t want to be mean, but the offensive line actually played better after left tackle Elvis Fisher left the game with an injury. Franklin was getting punished while Fisher was in the game.
Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones abused the Tigers. If there’s a better defensive player in the country, I’d like to see him.
The Bulldogs played without four suspended defensive starters. MU’s offense should have been better. Welcome to the SEC.
After two games, it’s time to get freshman receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, the nation’s No. 1 recruit last year, more involved. He had one catch for five yards against Georgia.
Another tremendous concern is the kicking game. Not sure if Andrew Baggett is the answer.
Look, Georgia was the preseason favorite to win the SEC East and currently is a top 10 team in the country.
Not every SEC game will be this tough, but none will be easy.
And what about Missouri’s uniforms? I guess once a year to go crazy is fine, but let’s not get too flashy. This isn’t Oregon. Let’s just play football.
It was a great atmosphere inside and outside of the stadium.
There were a ton of Georgia fans in Columbia.
I would say there were probably 10,000 Georgia fans actually inside the stadium for the game, but I bet there were another 20,000 fans who did not have tickets, but still made the trip.
That gives you an idea of just how huge SEC football really is in states like Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Florida.
The interaction between the two fan bases was very friendly. I didn’t see any problems at all. I think the two sides were more less just feeling each other out.
As a matter of fact, there were published reports that came out Sunday that Georgia fans were complaining that Mizzou fans were too nice.
As time goes on, the hatred will build.
A lot of MU fans were cheering that Kansas lost to Rice. That mindset needs to change. The Jayhawks are old news. We should’ve been cheering that Arkansas lost to Louisiana-Monroe.
It will take time to switch from Big 12 to SEC mode.
Can you imagine? There were 20,000 Georgia fans who made the trip to Columbia even though they did not have tickets to the game. They just set up shop outside of the stadium and made a weekend party out of it—eating, drinking and watching the game on television.
As a Missouri fan, would you drive to Athens, Ga., without a ticket to the game and watch it on TV outside of the stadium? I wouldn’t either.
Wait until Alabama visits Columbia Oct. 13. It will be pure madness.
It’s going to take everyone involved with Mizzou Nation, players, coaches and fans, a little time to get used to this SEC thing.